Thursday, October 31, 2013

Literacy in the rpg world

Something for me to think about for Bedine, literacy.

No, not among the players. I assume players can read :-)

Instead I'm talking about the pc. I think just about every rpg ever assumes the pc can read. While a universal literacy assumption is reasonable in a modern day/future setting, historical/fantasy rpgs also assume pc literacy. The data dump to the player by reading books is an old, old trope.

In the real world, literacy rates were low, even among the upper classes/elites of society. Scribes were a well paid profession in the real world for a reason. Old versions of the Dungeon Masters Guide only obliquely reference the literacy issue in their tables of wages for common professions when they listed wages for a scribe (scribes are among the better paid of the commoner professions).

In Baldur's Gate it's entirely reasonable the player can read, after all they did grow up in Candlekeep! In NWN1 the player is attending an hero school at the beginning of the game. It's reasonable that at least basic literacy would be taught to a would be hero, knowing which book on the evil wizard's shelf is the one that has his plans is a useful skill in the hero trade. In NWN2 Daeghun could reasonably teach the pc to read given his knowledge of the pc as carrying the shard, and there are bookshelves in the players house so there are certainly books around.

On the other hand fantasy worlds are full of barbarians, nomads, tribal groups and other such societies where learning is an oral process, possibly supplemented with pictures or pictographic representations. What about a pc from these groups? They can be highly intelligent, yet illiterate. Back to the example of the evil wizard's shelf, how does the nomad know which book to take? How do you give them information while in the dungeon, so often done with a reading data dump?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bedine update

I stopped working on proof of concept areas since I've discovered I can make decent looking desert areas with the toolset. I've done some work on implementing some of the quest ideas from the Anauroch sourcebook as sidequests. These are relatively straightforward quests along the lines of "merchant hires you to find something" and will make up some of the sidequests. Any obstacles for the player will go in later, puzzles, enemies etc. I've put in placeholder blank areas so I can put in the area transitions.

I've worked out a basic outline for a main quest and put in placeholders to support it. These are generic named npcs such as "shaman" and their conversation say things like "go click the clicky first!". While the written down plot outline has more detail than that, some specifics will be worked out over time as they grow into their spots organically. I haven't worked out the details of the ending yet, but that can come later as I currently don't have any inspiration for it. I'm not going to work on something like the endgame when I'm not feeling inspired, the lack of inspiration would show.

One big thing to come later, specific dialog lines for npcs. I try to find "voices" for the npcs so not everyone's dialog reads the same. Placeholder conversations will allow me to do basic testing of the main plot. The basic testing will focus on ensuring the story flow of the written outline is translated to game dialog correctly, making quest options show at the right times for example. Specific "voices" for npcs can come later.

Next step is setting up a test module and putting in these npcs/script to allow me to run through things and do basic testing of conversations and scripts.